The New York Mets added a pair of pitchers looking to reestablish themselves following Tommy John surgeries with the signings of left-hander Chris Capuano and right-hander Taylor Buchholz to one-year contracts Monday.
Capuano will receive $1.5 million, with the opportunity for incentives. Buchholz receives $600,000, on an unguaranteed deal.
Right-handed reliever Ryota Igarashi, who is owed $1.75 million in 2011, was designated for assignment to clear roster room.
Capuano, 32, returned to the Milwaukee Brewers last June after not pitching in the major leagues since the 2007 season. He struggled in his first start, then was assigned to the bullpen until the season's final five weeks. Overall, Capuano went 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 24 appearances (nine starts), and finished solidly in the starting role.
Capuano underwent the second Tommy John surgery of his career on May 15, 2008. He was registering only in the mid-80s mph with his fastball during last year's spring training, but consistently hit 89-90 mph as a starting pitcher as the season ended.
"I had the surgery in May of 2008, and expected it to be the standard one-year recovery from Tommy John," Capuano said. "It actually ended up taking me 16 or 18 months before I felt like I was really pitching pain-free again. It was frustrating. No doubt about it. But I have a good support system at home, a great wife, and we just kind of kept at it and I was able to get past those setbacks. I felt like my velocity started getting back up [in September] to where it was when I was really pitching well back in 2005, 2006, 2007. More importantly, I felt healthy and strong again."
Never a hard thrower anyway, the Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Duke University won a career-high 18 games in 2005 and was an All-Star the following season.
"That's what I'm excited about -- having a chance to go there and start and hopefully throw a lot of innings this year," said Capuano, who has been working out in Arizona with new teammate Nick Evans.
Buchholz, 29, expects to be used as a reliever by the Mets. He was among the elite set-up men in the game in 2008 for the Rockies, with a fastball that registered 92-93 mph and a highly effective, 12-to-6 curveball.
"That was really my first full year coming out of the pen," Buchholz said. "I had worked my way into it the year before, but that year everything kind of just clicked. I got that confidence. Everything just came together."
Buchholz appeared in a combined nine games in relief for the Colorado Rockies and, after a waiver claim, for the Toronto Blue Jays last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery, which forced him to miss the entire 2009 season. He is 19-21 with a 4.39 ERA in 135 career major league appearances (27 starts).
"Last year it was a battle coming back from Tommy John," said Buchholz, whose fastball dipped to 88-90 mph. "They usually say it takes that second full season for everything to get back to normal. I'm really excited about this year."
A devout Eagles fan who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Springfield, Pa., Buchholz said one attractive aspect about signing with the Mets was the proximity to his home.
"It's close to home, and they're rebuilding, and there's a good base there. It felt like a good fit," Buchholz said.
Igarashi, who had been lured from Japan with a two-year, $3 million deal, had a 7.12 ERA in 34 relief appearances last season and was demoted to the minors because of ineffectiveness.
Assuming Igarashi clears waivers, which should be the case given his salary, he is expected to be in major league camp as a non-roster invitee.